Today, on Equal Pay Day, White House and Biden Administration leaders convened workers, union leaders, construction contractors, heads of tradeswomen organizations, and equal pay experts to discuss how President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is providing economic opportunities for women in fields where they are historically underrepresented, in turn helping to close the gender pay gap.
Administration participants included Jennifer Klein, Director of the Gender Policy Council; Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor to the President and Infrastructure Coordinator; Lael Brainard, Director of the National Economic Council; Heather Boushey, Chief Economist to the Invest in America Task Force and Member of the Council of Economic Advisors; Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo; Robin Carnahan, Administrator of the General Services Administration; Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg, Department of Transportation; and Seema Nanda, Solicitor of the Department of Labor.
Women working full-time, year-round are paid only 84 cents, on average, for every dollar paid to men. Pay disparities are wider, on average, for many women of color, including Black women, Latinas, Native American women, and some groups of Asian American women. One of the primary drivers of pay gaps is the difference in the types of jobs and sectors where men and women typically work; women tend to work in low-wage sectors and are underrepresented in many good-paying occupations. Reducing barriers and opening pathways to good jobs is an important part of closing gender and racial pay gaps. As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration is making historic investments and creating good-paying jobs in industries such as advanced manufacturing, construction, and clean energy, and is providing opportunities for more women to access those jobs.
Today, as part of that work, the Administration announced the Department of Labor’s Mega Construction Project (Megaproject) Program. As part of that program, the Department of Labor will designate certain construction projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the CHIPS and Science Act as Megaprojects. Through intensive on-the-ground compliance assistance and community partnerships, the Megaproject Program strengthens recruitment, hiring, and employment practices for these construction projects, including by removing hiring barriers and promoting consideration of a diverse pool of qualified workers for jobs in the trades, including women, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities.
This announcement comes on the heels of the Department of Commerce releasing a notice of funding opportunity for the CHIPS Incentives Program last week, which will provide direct funding, loans, and loan guarantees to support semiconductor manufacturing in the United States. As part of the notice of funding opportunity, Commerce is requiring that companies who apply for more than $150 million in direct funding submit a plan to provide access to child care for the semiconductor and construction workforce who will build and power new and expanded manufacturing facilities. This will help employers find the skilled, trained workforce they need and enable parents, including mothers, to obtain and stay in jobs that build and operate chip facilities.
Today’s White House Women Rebuilding America roundtable convened private employers and unions who support women’s access to jobs in the trades to discuss strategies to recruit, train, and hire women, especially women of color. Union leaders discussed their commitment to diversify the construction trades, while construction contractors discussed their role as employers to create fair and equitable worksites. Workers and leaders of tradeswomen organizations discussed how to ensure community engagement and participation from workers in creating fair and equitable workplaces. White House officials underscored how women will play a critical role in advancing the progress of the President’s Investing in America agenda, thanked the participants for their leadership, and affirmed the Administration’s commitment to advancing equitable access to good jobs in communities across the country.
- Liz Shuler, President, AFL-CIO
- Sean McGarvey, International President, North America’s Building Trades Unions
- Deryl McKissack, President and CEO, McKissack & McKissack
- Stephanie Burns, Vice President and Director of WorkForce Development & Engagement, Turner Construction Company
- Erica Iheme, Co-Executive Director, Jobs to Move America
- Lauren Sugerman, Director, Center for Women’s Employment Equity, Chicago Women in Trades
- Donna Hammond, Interim Executive Director, Oregon Tradeswomen (IBEW Local 48)
- Cristina Barillas-McEntee, National LCLAA Chapter Development & Field Coordinator and Plumbers Local 130 UA
- Tia Vonil, Key Electrical and IBEW Local 48
- Jocelyn Frye, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
- Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center
- Noreen Farrell, Executive Director, Equal Rights Advocates and Chair, Equal Pay Today